Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was a fierce defender of Israel and a man of great vision and courage. He was a true hero and a statesman who was larger than life in every sense of the word and he left an indelible mark on the history of Israel, the Middle East and the world. He was a warrior who never stopped striving for peace and was also a realist and a pragmatist who was fully aware of who, and what, were and are the true obstacles to peace between Israel and her neighbors. No one knew the landscape of the Middle East better than he did and he took enormous risks in pursuit of peace while fully understanding that Israel had to be both stronger than its enemies and prepared to use its strength against them if it wanted to survive. He suffered a massive stroke in 2006 and just died after spending eight years in a coma.
Prior to his stroke he was asked if the conflict with the Palestinians would ever end. The answer he gave had great resonance then and is every bit as true now as when he gave it.
Here it is.
“The problem at the heart of the conflict is that the Arab world does not recognize the Jews’ inherent right to have a Jewish state in the land where the Jewish people began. This is the main problem. This also applies to Egypt, with which we have a cold peace. It also applies to Jordan, with which we have a very close strategic relationship, but this is a relationship between governments, not between peoples. The problem is not 1967. The problem is the profound nonrecognition by the Arab world of Israel’s birthright. This problem will not be signed by an agreement. It will not be solved by a speech. Anyone who promises that it’s possible to end the conflict within a year or two years or three is mistaken. Anyone who promises peace now is blind to the way things are. Even after the disengagement, we will not be able to rest on our laurels. We will not be able to sit under our fig tree and our vine.
“It may be that we will never have peace,” he went on. “And it may be that it will take a great many years to have peace. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t talk. It’s better to talk than not to talk. It’s important to conduct negotiations. Maybe it’s possible to solve one thing or another. But it has to be understood that the conflict may never be resolved. If it is ever resolved it will be a very long process.”
The disengagement Sharon was talking about is the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Look where that got Israel. Fat lot of good it did the Israelis, didn’t it?
Sharon believed that peace was dependent on Palestinian reforms and not Israeli concessions and he was of course absolutely correct.
He went on to say “The greatest danger is in signing some document and believing that as a result we will have peace. This is not going to happen….Instead, we have to build a process that will enable us to ascertain that indeed a change is taking place in the Arab world. It is necessary to teach all the teachers that Israel is a legitimate entity. And it is necessary to replace all the Palestinian textbooks. And this is beyond the elementary demand for the cessation of terror and the cessation of incitement and the implementation of reforms in the security organizations and the implementation of governmental reforms. It is necessary not to omit a single one of these steps….”
Wise words indeed and Israel’s current leaders should heed them and not be intimidated and bullied by people like United States President Barack Hussein Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry into making concessions that would in effect concede Israel out of existence.
Want peace between Israelis and Palestinians? Get the Palestinians to change their attitudes and behavior, attitudes and behavior which are rooted in Islam and have nothing to do with Israel per se. There is no other way-nothing else will do. Sharon knew that and it remains true even if Obama, Kerry and others of their ilk don’t recognize or understand it, or won’t admit it for political or ideological reasons.
The Lion of Israel.
Rest In Peace.
We can only hope that Israels current leaders prove to every bit as lionhearted as you were.